To lasagna devotees who are of a carnivorous cut, the notion of seven layers of our coveted cheesy, saucy goodness sans meet may seem preposterous. Some could even argue that lasagna without meat is like Garfield well, without Garfield. But veggie varieties of lasagna aren’t always mushy, flavorless messes – especially not at Pure Food and Wine. We scouted the city for one of the best meat-free lasagnas in the land, and found them elevating this multi-level entree to new, lusciously layered heights. “It's easily our signature dish,” says Sarma Melngailis, one of the masterminds behind the dish. “Our lasagna is one of the few dishes that has been on our menu since day one.”
Making truly savory vegetarian meals can be a challenge in and of itself, so when we heard that Pure was pulling it all off – not only meatless but raw, vegan and gluten-free taboot – we had to get the scoop for ourselves (a big, heaping scoop). “It was a collaboration before the restaurant opened between me and my then partner at the time.” she says. “For noodles, we slice zucchini lengthwise very thin and marinate it in olive oil and fresh herbs. The soft zucchini ribbons are layered with three filings, and thick slices of heirloom tomatoes — when in season.” When the heirlooms are not in season they turn to hot house. For fillings? Pumpkinseed macadamia ricotta, basil-pistachio pesto and sun-dried tomato sauce.
It sounds like a complex meal to conquer in the kitchen, but Sarma assures us that it can be done with minimal tools and a healthy dose of patience. “It's a really easy recipe for anyone to make,” she says, “All you need is a food processor and a mandoline to slice the zucchini thin.” (Pro-tip Watch your fingers with the latter of the two. Master its use and impress your friends at dinner parties.)
Sarma also recommends prepping each filling ahead of time. “Depending on what nuts are used for the ricotta, they may need to be soaked in water first,” she explains. “Otherwise, the recipe doesn't take very long at all, and if you can follow simple directions you can make it!” Next, Sarma slices up the tomatoes and zucchini, briefly marinates each thinly sliced squash, and fashions it all into the type of beautiful plating we can only create in our dreams. “You can assemble each one individually — like we do at the restaurant, topped with a fresh basil sprig — or you could make a tray at home they way homemade lasagna is usually made.”
Save plenty for lunch the next day, too. “Like many dishes, it often tastes even better the next day after the flavors have married overnight,” Sarma says. “It's best served at room temperature.”
But if all this is too much mandoline mastery to do at home, this first-rate recipe can always be found on the menu over at Pure. And lasagna lovers of all stripes will be in good company, “I think the world needs to know that Tom Brady ate our lasagna — brought to him from New York to Boston by his then girlfriend Gisele — for lunch before the 2007 game when he broke the record for most touchdowns in a season!” Sarma exclaims. Even if we don’t make a touchdown anytime soon, at least we can score a healthy serving of Sarma’s creation, which certainly feels like a win to us.
Pure Food and Wine
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